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  • How the prefix “franken-” took on a life of its own. . .

    As Halloween quickly approaches, Frankenstorm is sneaking up on the East Coast. Forecasters are calling the hurricane headed for New York, New Jersey, and as far inland as Ohio, “Frankenstorm” because (like the monster in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus) this storm is stitched together from three different weather systems

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    Whom: Is This Rare Pronoun Really Dead?

    To whom it may concern: Over the past 200 years written use of the pronoun whom has declined by half, and half again over the last 50. It makes sense. In the colloquial world of email and texting, thinking about the correct usage of whom can just slow writers down.

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  • Could an animal speak? Not just bark or meow, but actually speak.

    From Dr. Doolittle to Jane Goodall, human-animal communication has occupied our thoughts both in fiction and in reality. Dogs recognize their names when they are called; researchers have successfully taught primates to communicate in sign language; and the famed African gray parrot, Alex, built a vocabulary of over 100 English words out of which he […]

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  • Who put the $ in Ke$ha? Where did the $ come from?

    From the California dance band !!! to MIA spelling out her name in dashes, musical artists seem to love putting symbols in their names. Perhaps none more notable than pop star, Ke$ha who differentiates herself with a single letter substitution.

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  • How much talking does your body do?

    The phrase “body language” or nonverbal communication often gets tossed around. From public speaking to a first date, our movements and facial expressions say a lot about our feelings and intentions. Now, as we enter into political debate season, politicians’ body language will be under just as much scrutiny as their remarks, and if the […]

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  • SAT writing scores drop to lowest in history. What does this mean for America’s vocabulary?

    What comes to mind when you think about getting into college? Your grades, your personal essay, and of course, your SAT scores. The test that rules the lives of so many high school students was first administered in 1926. At that time “SAT” stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test. But today, after countless name changes the exam […]

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